STILLWATER – Marcus Smart rose up to fire a 3-pointer late Saturday night, and many in jam-packed Gallagher-Iba Arena gasped, some even shouted “No! No!”
Smart had already missed 6 of 7 tries from the arc, and with the Cowboys clawing back to within one, trying another hardly seemed wise.
Then Smart’s shot turned true, just like his game in the second half, spurring Oklahoma State’s rallying 72-65 win over No. 5 Kansas.
The Cowboys needed a statement game.
So did Smart.
Needed and delivered, on both counts.
Smart shook off a shaky first half, scoring 20 of his 21 points after intermission, including 12 in the final 7:16, when OSU was finishing off a comeback from 10 points down at the 10:51 mark. The Cowboys star sophomore, who missed three games while suspended during the losing streak, missed all seven of his shots from the floor in the first half. But he rallied strong, slashing and scoring and defending when the Cowboys needed him most.
“My teammates, they stayed in my ear,” Smart said. “‘Keep shooting. Keep driving. Do what you do. Let your defense create your offense.’ And that’s kind of what I did. I had four steals, so I was active off the ball and on the ball.
“I just kind of let my game come to me in the second half.”
And yet, Smart took it to the Jayhawks.
In the end, his stat line was superb: 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and a blocked shot.
Along with that, he dictated play, driving and dishing and drawing fouls, making 9 of 14 shots from the line after the Jayhawks found themselves in foul trouble in the second half. The Cowboys were in the bonus at the 11:53 mark.
“I don’t think you’re going to shut him out,” said KU coach Bill Self. “The ball’s in his hand so much and he’s so good at driving. And his teammates helped him, because his teammates helped him get in the bonus.